Berlin Marathon

The history of the race

A small road near the stadium of SC Charlottenburg in Berlin was home to the first Berlin Marathon held in the middle of October, 1974. The world-famous race has humble beginnings and, in its inaugural year, only two hundred and eighty-six athletes decided to enter. An athlete from Berlin won the first race in a time of just two hours, forty-four minutes and fifty-three seconds. Impressively, this athlete still competes in the Berlin Marathon today.

The Berlin Marathon soon started to become more popular and 1976 saw three hundred and ninety-seven runners compete in the city. In the early 1980s the route changed and runners were allowed to run through the main streets of West Berlin. This was an impressive achievement for the organisers of the race, who had to fight against opposition from the local government and police force.

The first winners on this new route were Ian Ray from the United Kingdom and Angelika Stephan from Germany. Stephan managed to win the women’s race in just two hours, forty-seven minutes, and twenty-three seconds. At this point in the Berlin Marathon’s history, the race had become so attractive to athletes that over three thousand, four hundred runners took part. This statistic may sound impressive but, in 1985, over ten thousand athletes tried to enter the Marathon.

In late September, 1990, approximately twenty-five thousand athletes passed through the Brandenburg Gate. Three days later, German unification occurred and emotions were running high throughout the day of the race and the weeks that followed. This was the year in which the Berlin Marathon became one of the fastest races in the world, with Australian athlete, Steve Moneghetti, running the race in a time of just two hours, eight minutes, and sixteen seconds.

The Berlin Marathon celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday in 1998, and over twenty-seven thousand athletes helped the organisers celebrate the occasion. This year also saw Ronaldo da Costa achieve a world record.

In the early years of this decade, the Berlin Marathon established itself as one of the most popular races in the world. In 2005, Mizuki Noguchi managed to set a new Asian record by running a time of two hours, nineteen minutes, and twelve seconds. This also set a new course record, beating the time set the previous year by Yoko Shibui of two hours, nineteen minutes, and forty-one seconds.

In 2006, nearly forty thousand runners entered the race and Haile Gebrselassie, a legend in the world of athletics, managed to run the race in a time of two hours, five minutes, and fifty-six seconds. This time was the fastest of the year and the seventh fastest time ever recorded.

The route

The marathon starts on Strasse des 17. Juni near the Brandenburg Gate. Runners head past the Tiergarten area before continuing east towards the famous Reichstag. At approximately the five mile mark, runners pass the Bundeskanzleramt, which is currently home to the offices of the German Chancellor. Athletes then run towards Moritzplatz before turning left towards Ritterstrasse. Once the route reaches Hermannplatz, it heads in a westerly direction along the Hasenheide.

After the halfway point, a left turn takes athletes on to Potsdamer Strasse. Whilst heading in a southerly direction, runners pass the Rathaus Schöneberg in John F. Kennedy Platz. The Schmargendorf area of the route is the most south-westerly point of the course. At the 22 mile point, athletes hit the area of Kurfürstendamm, an area which is famous for its shopping streets. The route then goes past the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and then rejoins Potsdamer Strasse.

The final section of the Berlin Marathon takes runners past the Staatsoper (the Opera House) before they head through the famous monument of the Brandenburg Gate. The finishing line is located on Strasse des 17. Juni.

Past results

Since the world-famous race started, Berlin has seen some interesting and impressive results:

  • In 1995, Sammy Lelei from Kenya managed to run the race in a time of just two hours, seven minutes, and two seconds. This time was the second fastest ever recorded and the world record narrowly eluded him by just two seconds.
  • In 2001, Naoko Takahashi from Japan decided to try to become the first woman to run the race in a time of under two hours and twenty minutes. She managed to achieve her aim in impressive style, finishing in a time of just two hours, nineteen minutes, and forty-six seconds. In 2002, she returned to Berlin to win the race again, marking a successful comeback from injury.
  • In 2003, Paul Tergat set an amazing new world record. The athlete from Kenya became the first runner to manage a time below two hours and five minutes. He finished the race in two hours, four minutes, and fifty-five seconds, with Sammy Korir finishing just one second behind him. The closely contested final section of this marathon has meant that it has gone down in history as one of the most exciting races in history.

How to enter

Registration for next year’s race (to be held on 20 Sept 2009) has not started yet but you must apply by post if you decide to enter. Applications sent over the telephone, by fax, or over the Internet will be rejected immediately. The application form and detailed information about the registration process can be found here. You should keep checking this website for details on registration dates and procedural information.

Payment must be made by a valid debit or credit card and registrations will be accepted strictly on a first-come-first-served basis. For this year’s race, 40,000 athletes were allowed to enter. The Berlin Marathon is run in accordance with the international competition (IWB) regulations of the German Athletics Federation (DLV) and the IAAF under the strict supervision of the Berlin Athletics Association (BLV). This year, anyone who was born in or before 1990 was allowed to enter the race and the time limit was six and a half hours.